Goulburn is a grand old inland city that is emerging as a great weekend getaway.
Optimism about travel is unfurling just as we catch a scent of summer up ahead. Time to get away, to see our families on the move and excited again, to add to the memories of a lifetime that have been put on hold. And for those hankering to rediscover the comforts of country Australia, the Goulburn Mulwaree region of NSW could be just the spot for the Christmas holidays.
Just an hour’s drive from Canberra and two from Sydney, Goulburn is rich in history and heritage. It was Australia’s first inland city, and grew its wealth around the wool industry. It has historic waterworks and a rail centre, a self-guided heritage tour, museums and art galleries. It’s also surrounded by bushland and national parks, rolling farming country and wetlands.
What’s more, you’ll find an abundance of quality accommodation options in and around Goulburn that you can still book for the Christmas and New Year period – though jump to it to ensure your summer getaway. Among the options are hotels and motels, serviced apartments, B&Bs, heritage homes, pub and farm stays, not to mention various camping options in surrounding national parks and reserves.
GOOD NIGHT: Where to stay in Goulburn
A top choice is Best Western Plus Goulburn, which is within walking distance of downtown shops, restaurants and entertainment. Guestrooms give you plenty of elbow space, and apartments come with full kitchens. You’ll also benefit from amenities such as a front desk, restaurant, cocktail lounge and laundromat.
For five-star indulgence, Astor Suites is tucked into Goulburn’s historic heart and combines urban chic with old-fashioned country service. The attached bar features live music at weekends, while the bistro serves up finger-licking favourites such as wood-fired pizzas, pulled pork and an irresistible chocolate fondant with candied walnuts.
There is, of course, much more, whether you fancy a stay in Garroorigang Historic Home with its four-poster bed and antique furnishings, or the contemporary comfort of a serviced apartment at Mercure Goulburn.
For something completely different, enjoy the Railway Barracks, built in 1935 for the town’s first train drivers has a varity of twin, double and bunk rooms.
If you’d rather stay out of town, consider a family-friendly cottage amid the roses at peaceful Towrang Farm Stay, or cellar-door accommodation amid vineyards and olive groves at Yarralaw Springs Wines, whose eco-friendly, straw-bale unit has two bedrooms and a full kitchen. Guests can enjoy on-farm activities such as walking, mountain biking and tennis, and watch kangaroos hop as they savour a glass of estate wine.
COUNTRY CHARMS: Goulburn activities
Summertime in the Goulburn Mulwaree region is all about nature, water-based activities and recharging in the countryside. Various drives around the region take you to historic homesteads and villages, local rivers and lookouts, and fishing spots such as Pejar Dam and Marsden Weir. If you’re keen to cycle, there are trails around the Southern Tablelands that take you through beautiful countryside.
Bungonia National Park has a great network of walking and hiking trails and is a top caving destination. A great spot here is Adams Lookout for picnics with a view over a narrow canyon. Much closer to town is Goulburn Wetlands, a former brick pit rehabilitated for wildlife and regularly visited by birds such as pelicans, lapwings, ducks and honeyeaters.
Wollondilly River Walkway is another great place to unwind with a picnic, or get active by walking or cycling along the river, since the walkway extends for four kilometres. If you have your own kayak, the river is a lovely spot to paddle.
In Goulburn itself, take to the Public Art Walk that runs between the Visitor Information Centre and Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, or bring the kids to the Adventure Playground in Victoria Park, where you’ll also find a skate park and aquatic centre. The playground, which caters to all ages and abilities, has flying foxes, climbing nets, a maze and various other play structures.
Wine lovers can sample the region’s cool-climate wines at cellar doors. Kingsdale Wines has lovely views over Lake Sooley, while Yarralaw Springs also produces olive oil. Bungonia Creek Wines, located by the scenic Bungonia Gorge, produces shiraz, merlot, sauvignon blanc and Riesling. Its refreshing rosé, which hints of strawberries, is the perfect summer drop over lunch.
FUN FARE: Where to eat in Goulburn
After a hearty morning or afternoon adventure, you’ll be looking forward to your food. Given the Goulburn Mulwaree region is in the heart of the Southern Tablelands, plump farm country and vineyards, you can be sure of plenty of fresh produce and comforting country fare.
Goulburn has a very lively cafe and pub scene, a burgeoning foodie scene, and international flavours that range from Chinese to Thai and Mexican. Try Harvest Goulburn for on-trend cafe meals, Paragon Cafe for more old-fashioned fare, and The Park Cafe for its all-day breakfast menu.
Fancy an Aussie pie? Bryants Pies has been dishing up scrumptiousness since 1851, with classics such as steak and pea and gourmet alternatives such as chicken and asparagus; you can also tuck into treats like peach cheesecake and caramel custard puffs.
For another treat, head to family-friendly Hibernian Hotel, Goulburn’s oldest pub, where Bistro 1850 does a great range of lunch specials and Sunday roasts. Its main menu tempts with everything from rump steaks to teriyaki salmon, beef nachos to Thai beef salad.
Meanwhile, you’ll find Goulburn’s largest indoor play area attached to a cafe serving kids’ meals at Tabitinga Dine and Play. The whole family can enjoy the adjacent main dining area of Goulburn Soldiers’ Club, which has an extensive menu of burgers, pizzas, salads and plates from the grill.
Finally, don’t forget to plunder the weekend markets in Goulburn and surrounding villages for fresh produce, snags from the barbecue, crusty bread, roasted nuts, cakes baked by members of the Country Women’s Association, and a host of other tastes and seasonal treats. You’ll even be able to pick up handicrafts and homewares for a lasting reminder of a wonderful country holiday.
For a great variety of accommodation options and information on what to see, do and where to eat, visit Goulburn Australia.
And for more , check out our guide to shopping in Goulburn.